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I'm reading through a patent and in the section titled "Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiment" there are several paragraphs that begin with:

In a further preferred embodiment of the invention...

Given this section of the patent should describe the "preferred embodiment" (singular) of the invention, what does this phrase mean? Is it used when the inventor wants to describe a variation of the preferred embodiment? Alternatively, does it refer to a completely seperate preferred embodiment?

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It means “the following limitation is optional“.

In Europe for example, if you describe an example with limitations a, b and c only, you cannot claim a and b without c. If however you say a, preferably plus b, more preferably c or c and b, it is clear that a can be combined with b and/or c.

It is a (very important) formal thing. If you look for it, you will see that, in a well written application, almost every limitation is optional. Phrases like “it can be“, “optionally“, “preferably“, “may have“, etc. are used.

Example: “The car has at least one wheel, in a preferred embodiment it has 4 of them, in a further preferred embodiment 2 of at least 2 wheels are driven.“ -> The car can have 1 wheel that is not driven or 2 that are driven or 3 where none or two are driven, etc.

  • @user5814 at times this phrase is also used when alternative exists which perform the same function and also for full filling the written description requirements – RishiM_IPR Jan 9 at 9:39

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